It is all good news from Zinave National Park as positive updates about the growing predator population start to filter in. As an area devastated by drought and unsustainable use of natural resources for many years, the thought of seeing an apex predator, let alone multiple, may have seemed like a bit of a stretch. But now, after many years of building a solid foundation to support carnivores such as lion, leopard and hyena, Zinave National Park is on its way to becoming one of Africa’s most celebrated wilderness areas and a flagship park in Mozambique.

Even in places where leopard is in abundance, sightings of this elusive species can be tricky. So you might be able to imagine that in a wilderness expanse of 408 000 ha, getting a glimpse of just two of these big cats is nearly impossible. Thankfully, they have been fitted with tracking collars which allow the team to collect information about their movements, behavioural patterns, home range and current GPS location.

Bernard van Lente, Peace Parks’ Project Manager in Zinave, explains in the video above how recent data indicates that the relocated leopards are starting to establish their home range, both preferring the dense Save riverine vegetation and woodlands, which makes for the ideal habitat to provide cover when stalking or ambushing prey.  The female has primarily remained in Covane, an area next to the sanctuary, and regularly explores the Zinave Pan outlet channel, which supports a host of small mammals and birdlife. The male has not quite taken to exploring as his female counterpart, with his movements being restricted mainly to the Zinave Pan area and the Sacred Forest. Excitingly, recent data indicates that he has started moving to Covane and back, meaning that their movements do overlap, which bodes well for the future of Zinave’s resident leopard population.

In 2020, four young spotted hyenas were the first of the predator species to be reintroduced back into Zinave. What has created even more of a stir is that the first two resident spotted hyena cubs were born in more than four decades last year. Although our team have tried to locate the active hyena den on foot, which you can watch here, these clever animals manage to outsmart them every time. It is encouraging that hyena tracks are often seen, and their eerie whooping calls are regularly heard at night, with camera traps showing evidence of more diurnal activity.

Not only are the leopard and hyena populations thriving in Zinave, but a large male lion and lioness have moved into the area on their own accord, indicating that there is a rich source of food to support these apex predators.

Since the commencement of the co-management agreement between Peace Parks Foundation and the Mozambican Ministry of Land, Environmental and Rural Development, a significant transformation has occurred through infrastructure developments, anti-poaching efforts and the reintroduction of wildlife. This facilitates the overall growth of the local economy through employment opportunities in the park and communities sharing in 20% of the park’s revenue each year – all of which ensures the sustainability of Zinave’s very bright future!

Keep following Peace Parks TV to see how Zinave’s predators continue to get on.